Apopka honors fallen firefighter with Clydesdales, raffle at tree-lighting event

Budweiser Clydesdales visit 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., tree-lighting at 6 p.m. Friday

APOPKA, Fla. – The city of Apopka lit up its Christmas tree Friday evening, with this year’s event including a special tribute to Austin Duran.

Duran was a firefighter with the Apopka Fire Department who died in July at 25 years old, weeks after he was badly injured while working at the firehouse. We spoke with Mike Duran, Austin’s father, who arranged to have the Budweiser Clydesdales at Kit Land Nelson Park before the tree-lighting.

“I wanted to do something that- because of something that we’ve never experienced, I wanted to return that to Apopka, something that they’ve never experienced, and the Clydesdales was the way to do that,” Mike Duran said.

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A raffle will be held for the chance to ride one of the famous horses, with the money headed back to the community via the Armando Buojas Jr. Scholarship Foundation. According to a writeup on The Apopka Voice, Mike Duran worked in cooperation with City Beverages — an Anheuser-Busch Wholesaler, his employer — as well as the city and the scholarship foundation to bring the Clydesdales to Apopka.

It’s far from the first time Apopka has gathered to honor Austin Duran. From candlelight vigils to car washes, tribute runs, honest fundraisers and the sight of hundreds of attendees at Austin’s funeral, the community has been an oak in its efforts to honor the Durans and help them recover.

The Clydesdales were held in the park from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., with the tree-lighting set at 6 p.m.

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About the Author:

Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.